The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week rose to the highest level since September, as initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000 for the week ended Nov. 22.
The Labor Department said on Wednesday that despite the low number of eligible unemployed, due in large part to long-term unemployment, it was the first-time since early September that claims broke above the 300,000 threshold.
The four-week moving average of claims, which is widely considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, remained below 300,000 for an 11th straight week.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 288,000 last week, and the Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data.
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 17,000 to 2.32 million in the week ended Nov. 15, which is the lowest since December 2000. However, the number is extremely misleading. The number is as low as it is due to the number of long-term unemployed Americans who are no longer eligible for benefits.
The so-called continuing claims covered the household survey week from which the unemployment rate for November will be calculated. Continuing claims fell 71,000 between the October and November survey period, suggesting the unemployment rate could fall from a six-year low of 5.8 percent.